My latest piece at PRZman, “A Man’s Basic Bar,” shows you how to stock a home bar for only $100.
If someone came over to your place right now and you were inclined to offer them a drink (which you should), what exactly could you offer? Light beer and the remnants of a leftover handle of Cuervo? You’re not in college anymore. Well, maybe you are, but in any case, the response to the question “What have you got?” should be “Whatever you want.”
The best thing about stocking a home bar is that it doesn’t have to be expensive and, if done deliberately, can mean you have the ability to provide a huge range of cocktails for guests. So how do you go about stocking up affordably while preserving a wide range of options? Easy—cover the key base spirits and the most common mixers. Gin, rum, bourbon, vodka, and tequila will be your most common bases (if you prefer other whiskeys, rye, Irish, Scotch or Canadian may be substituted for bourbon). You’ll also need sweet and dry vermouth, an orange liqueur and aromatic bitters. These four ingredients are common throughout classic cocktails and will let you move beyond making highballs for your guests. Add some soft drinks and fresh fruit and you’ll be ready to go.
For the sake of making this affordable, I’m going to set a budget of $100 to stock your bar.
Here’s how you can do it:
Gin: Beefeater, $14
Rum: Flor De Caña Extra Dry 4 Year, $14
Bourbon: Evan Williams, $11
Vodka: Smirnoff, $11
Tequila: El Jimador Blanco, $19
Vermouth: Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth, $5 (375mL)
Vermouth: Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth, $5 (375mL)
Orange Liqueur: Hiram Walker Triple Sec, $7 (375mL)
Bitters: Angostura Bitters, $6
All of these are quality ingredients and at this point you’ve only spent $92 stocking your home bar. The last $8 should go towards keeping a small cache of tonic water, club soda, cola, ginger ale, fruit juices and fresh lemons and limes handy. For the soft drinks, having cans or small bottles is ideal, so you won’t waste 2 liters of tonic water serving one person a drink.
Don’t look now, but you just scored yourself a serious home bar for under $100. So what drinks can you now make in your home bar?
- Old Fashioned
- Dry Martini
- Vodka Martini
- Perfect Martini
- Perfect Manhattan
- Pegu Club Cocktail
- Tom Collins
- John Collins
- Suffering Bastard
- Leap Year Cocktail
- Gin Rickey
- Moscow Mule
- Bloody Mary
- Cuba Libre
- Vodka/Gin/Rum & Tonic
- Bourbon/Vodka & Soda
- Bourbon & Coke
- Bourbon & Ginger
You’ll also want to also have a few key tools: a Boston shaker, which is a mixing glass and a metal tin, a bar spoon, a jigger or small measuring cup, a julep strainer, a Hawthorne strainer, and a small hand juicer. You can order these tools on the cheap at various online bar supply stores.